using a canner for pot-in-pot cooking

davidrt28 (zone 7)February 17, 2013

Hello Harvesters. I'm a noob...forgive me if I missed something in the archives, but I did spend a few minutes searching them.

Just started using a small Presto pressure cooker someone gave me as a gift a few years ago. I like certain things it can do with it but I don't want to eat any food out of it because it's an Aluminum (Al) model. The one time I tried to make white rice in it I could definitely taste the aluminum.
Then I saw this:
And tried the "pot-in-pot" method with the stainless steel inner pot from my rice cooker. That was hard enough to find; many are teflon non-stick. That is believed to have health concerns too. I have the smaller Tatung model, and it's fine for white rice, but Lundberg Wehani actually cooks much better in the pressure cooker. I use a bent aluminum bar about 1/2" wide as a trivet in the bottom of the pressure cooker, and put the SS inner pot above that. One slight change is I covered the rice pot in Al foil; the lid it comes with probably isn't suitable for such high temps - it's only for covering the rice after it is cooked. I was a bit worried that water from the bottom might splash up into the rice because the clearance is very close, but that's probably not going to happen.
From working in labs years ago, my recollection is that any container inside an autoclave will reach pressure if there's a bit of liquid at the bottom of it. Otherwise, containers need to be in a draining configuration. What you want to avoid is an upturned bell that's empty: the steam will not displace the air. When cooking rice of course, there's water in there. I later tried the same technique using the SS steamer tray in the rice cooker pot, and filling the space above with some meatballs. They cooked very well and a lot of the fat drained off. They reached an internal temp. of 200F after 30 minutes, but were very moist. No other technique would permit that short of frying them - which is how italian restaurants usually do it.
So, here's my question. I currently don't have a canning model. I want to get one to occasionally can...but I _mainly_ want a bigger one so that I can find a bigger internal SS pot and cook larger quantities of food that way. (Can only do 1 1/3 lbs of meatballs at the moment) No one seems to market one exclusive for pressure cookers so I'll have to improvise by finding the right size prep bowl (no need for thick stove top stock) and possibly trying to fabricate my own lid for it. I wonder if anyone else does this with some frequency and what issues they've had. Of course, you could never safely can in a doubled configuration! I will follow the directions closely for doing that...the point is for cooking all you care about is whether the food is cooked or not, or with meat that it reaches a safe internal temp. and tastes good.

Another benefit of this approach is that a stainless steel prep bowl is easier to clean than an Al pressure cooker. With foil over the inner pot, _nothing_ comes out, and the inside of the pressure cooker seems as clean as if you'd boiled water in it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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readinglady(z8 OR)

One of the best sites for anything related to pressure cooking is Miss Vicki. I did a search on her site for "steam cooking" and it brought up a page which may answer some of your questions.

If you haven't explored her site before I recommend it. Her book is also one of the best pressure cooking resources.


Here is a link that might be useful: Miss Vickie Pressure Cooking

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:55PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks, I'll see if anyone is doing this in the forum there.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 5:10PM
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I have used the pot in the pot method for white rice. I too found it difficult to find a ss bowl to use. However, I did find one at Kroger. They had 2 or 3 different sizes available. They were deep sided, so not sure if that is what you are looking for. I have also seen ss pet food dishes in many sizes.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:00PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Some companies sell stainless steel inner pots for use in slow cookers, pressure cookers and crock pots. If your vessel is large enough, they can work well for pot-in-pot cooking.

Here's one example:

Here is a link that might be useful: Stainless Steel Inner Pot

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:56PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The thing that really bothered me about that site, the site, was that its primary agenda seemed to be to sell Fagor Pressure cookers. Given that agenda it does make me wonder about the accuracy of the info they provide.

As you know we have discussed some of the problems with Fagor in the past. But as long as they stick to pressure "cooking" and quit claiming they are pressure "canners" too I have no problem with them. Still I don't find comments such as To Upgrade Your Ancient Presto to a Modern Fagor, to be beneficial.



    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Thanks for the great idea! My old 8 qt Presto cooker/canner is too pitted and stained inside for me to even think abt cooking food directly in it.

Yesterday I took the handles off my 3 qt stainless steel Farberware saucepot/steamer combo and used just the saucepot to hold some beef. Worked super! It just barely floated above the bottom of the old pressure cooker.

The two side handles were a breeze to take off and screw back on.

Here is a link that might be useful: Farberware Stack N Steam

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:35AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I'm glad you found my suggestion useful. FWIW, it still seems necessary to me to have something like a trivet to elevate the inner pot. I had leftover 1/2" piece of aluminum stock from Lowe's, for another project, and twisted it into a squarish shape.

Related to your handle removing, I now realize the Tatung rice cooker's inner pot's lid, which the manual states is not for use during cooking, has a removable plastic handle. Same deal as the Farberware, held on by a screw. Once you take that off, you have a 100% SS cover for the inner pot, with, of course, a pressure relief hole right in the middle! It extends to the edge so any drip down will go back into the pressure cooker. No need to wrap the top in foil anymore.
As I said, remember when doing this to cook something where there isn't intimate water/food contact, like rice, you have to have enough moisture in the inner pot so that some is leftover after the cooking is done. I probably used 1/2 cup under the steamer tray for meatballs and that was fine. The heat transfers from the pressure cooker, into the inner pot, where the water boils, and pressure builds to the same pressure as outside the inner pot. If you just threw a beef roast in there, dry, it might eventually cook from radiant heat but if an airlock formed, but it wouldn't be steam pressure cooked.
Readinglady - THANK YOU for the link. I was having trouble finding anything like that, even on amazon. Now I just need to find the right match of pressure canner size/inner pot size that will allow me to cook a lot of food in there.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:31PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Asians (particularly Indians) use pressure cookers a lot and a number of their companies offer a range of pot-in-pot inserts in both stainless and nonstick (not that I'm planning on using nonstick myself) and varied capacities.

A search on Amazon should bring up several and then you can expand your search to price-check.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 4:37PM
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